Last week the three main parties in Britain and Northern Ireland released their manifestos. It seems that the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour all agree that the key areas of policy for a future government will be: the economy, housing, healthcare and Brexit. With two weeks to go until the general election on 8th June, here is a quick look at how the three main parties compare on the key policies.
On the economy, all three parties are in agreement that more needs to be done to encourage growth and investment. Whilst the Conservatives wish to lower taxes and improve corporate governance, the Liberal Democrats and Labour wish to provide proper scrutiny of big companies and ensure that those who can afford to are paying an appropriate amount of tax, through a 1p increase in income tax as proposed by the Liberal Democrats, or a 5% increase in income tax for those earning over £80,000 in the case of Labour. Both the Liberal Democrats and Labour would use the British Business Bank to provide investment and funds to small and developing businesses, whilst the Conservatives remained vague on how they wished to promote small business.
Brexit sees all three parties taking completely different stances. The Conservatives are in favour of a ‘hard Brexit’ meaning leaving the EU completely including the customs union and the single market, taking back control of immigration and leaving the European Court of Justice. They would also replace or amend laws that were implemented when the UK was part of the EU through a Great Repeal Bill. Labour wishes to leave the EU but go for a ‘soft Brexit’ meaning that Britain remains part of the customs union and the single market, but prevents freedom of movement. Labour would also seek to guarantee the rights of European citizens currently living in Britain, as well as the rights of British citizens currently living in Europe. The Liberal Democrats would remain in the single market, the customs union and allow for freedom of movement. They would also wish to hold a referendum on any deal signed between them and the EU, and allow the people the final say, giving them the chance to completely reject the deal and remain in the EU.
Healthcare is a big issue for many voters within the country, and considering the ageing population this is no surprise. It is also no surprise therefore, that all three parties have promised significant investment into the NHS. The Conservatives have promised £8 billion of investment throughout the next Parliament, with £1 billion of that going toward Mental Health funding. The Liberal Democrats would use the 1p increase in income tax to help increase funding for the NHS and A and E, they would also set up a cross party consultation group to assess how the NHS is performing and whether it needs to adapt and change, and if so how that change might be implemented. Labour would invest £30 billion into the NHS, and would invest heavily in GP services. They would also develop a Child’s Health Index to assess how healthy the children in the country are and how their health can be improved.
On housing, the three parties appear to vary between have clear cut and costed proposals and vagueness. The Conservatives promise to use the Homelessness Reduction Act to half homelessness by 2022, and to end homelessness completely by 2027. They would also seek to modernise the home buying process through increased emphasis on their ‘Help to Buy’ Scheme and increasing protection for renters through introducing procedures that make the renter the priority in law. The Liberal Democrats would seek to build 300,000 new houses by the end of the 2022 Parliament. They would use the Housing and Development bank to attract investment into the country for housing development. They would also introduce ‘Rent to Buy’ schemes to ease people into the housing market. Labour would build 100,000 new houses using brownfield sites, 4,000 of which would be for those with a history of rough sleeping. They would also reintroduce housing benefit for 18-21 year olds.
All three parties have provided fully detailed manifestos to go alongside these key policies, that are available on their websites. If you have not already done so, please do register to vote. And do remember to turn out on Thursday 8th June, to get the government you want!